ITcon Vol. 17, pg. 194-212,

Usability assessment of drone technology as safety inspection tools

published:September 2012
editor(s):Amor R.
authors:Javier Irizarry, Assistant Professor,
Georgia Institute of Technology;

Masoud Gheisari, PhD Candidate,
Georgia Institute of Technology;

Bruce N. Walker, Associate Professor,
Georgia Institute of Technology;
summary:The construction industry lags behind many others in the rate of adoption of cutting edge technologies.In the area of safety management this is more so. Many advances in information technology could provide greatbenefits to this important aspect of construction operations. Innovative use of these tools could result in saferjobsites. This paper discusses initial application of drone technology in the construction industry. In this study, asmall-scale aerial drone was used as a tool for exploring potential benefits to safety managers within theconstruction jobsite. This drone is an aerial quadricopter that can be piloted remotely using a smart phone, tabletdevice or a computer. Since the drone is equipped with video cameras, it can provide safety managers with fastaccess to images as well as real time videos from a range of locations around the jobsite. An expert analysis(heuristic evaluation) as well as a user participation analysis were performed on said quadricopter to determine thefeatures of an ideal safety inspection drone. The heuristic evaluation uncovered some of the user interface problemsof the drone interface considering the context of the safety inspection. The user participation evaluation wasperformed following a simulated task of counting the number of hardhats viewed through the display of a mobiledevice in the controlled environment of the lab. Considering the task and the controlled variables, this experimentalapproach revealed that using the drone together with a large-size interface (e.g. iPad) would be as accurate ashaving the safety manager with plain view of the jobsite. The results of these two evaluations together with previousexperience of the authors in the area of safety inspection and drone technology led to recommendations for therequired features of an Ideal Safety Inspection Drone. Autonomous navigation, vocal interaction, high-resolutioncameras, and collaborative user-interface environment are some examples of those features. This innovativeapplication of the aerial drone has the potential to improve construction practices and in this case facilitate jobsitesafety inspections.
keywords:drone, safety inspection, usability evaluation
full text: (PDF file, 1.02 MB)
citation:Irizarry J, Gheisari M, Walker B N (2012). Usability assessment of drone technology as safety inspection tools, ITcon Vol. 17, pg. 194-212,